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Got an Offer? Not Yet?

Relocation: Should You Make the Move?

Relocation has become as much a part of professional life as fax machines and voice mail. Whether out of want or need, relocation will be a part of many of our careers.

Even the recent college graduate must at least think beyond the areas around home or school when looking for his or her first job. As human resources consultant Jo-Ann Vega says, "Learn to think nationally, if not internationally."

It is helpful to realize just how radically the concept of a job or profession has changed. it wasn't long ago that a person chose a job in one location - and that was it. This was especially true of the generation that suffered through the Great Depression. Those who had been devastated through long periods of being unable to attain any livelihood tended to take the first job offered to them and hang on to it for life. It's from this mentality that the whole concept of security, and especially job security, arose.

Now that senior executives in once seemingly invulnerable companies like General Motors and IBM are becoming unemployment statistics, the entire concept of job security is, as Vega says, an anachronism. But this is not as negative as it might first appear. For at a time when job security meant everything, it also meant that it was difficult to move from one job to another. Many people, even those with college education's, spent their lifetimes in the same jobs because changing jobs was, in many cases, unthinkable. Leaving a job was often regarded as a betrayal, and potential employers tended to be suspicious of those who had left (or wanted to leave) a secure position for another company.

In this increasingly mobile society, that perception has changed. It is common for professionals to move from one state to the next, not only to new jobs but to new careers as well. So a first job out of college may be just that - a start before it's time to move on. Keep that in mind as you gain experience in an entry-level position.

One college career advisor says, "You should be real clear as to your motivations for taking that first job so you are not unduly disappointed about some aspects of the experience that may not be up to your expectations."

In other words, if your entry-level job does not develop into something more, don't be disappointed. Do your best and when the time is right, move on.

If you decide that relocation is for you, or you feel it is necessary because of the state of your local job market, consider the logistics before hitting the road. First of all, what is your salary in relation to living expenses? Someone living on $24,000 a year in a small town will have a tough time making it on the same amount in New York City.

Yet the reverse also can be true. Someone from a big city may overlook the fact that a modest salary in a less populated area might add up to more disposable cash because housing, food and other expenses are not as costly in a smaller area. If you are fortunate enough to have the luxury of choosing between offers in different cities, be sure to factor in the comparative costs of living.

Consider, too, those close to you. If your spouse works, under what circumstances could s /he make the same kind of move? Could you pull your children out of a school or day-care center you like? Even single candidates might have to discuss moving with a boy / girlfriend.

Transportation is another factor. A large metropolis might offer efficient public transportation; a more suburban area could mean the need for a car and the monthly payments and insurance premiums that go along with it.

And what does a new area offer outside of work? Recreational activities, entertainment and cultural opportunities should be taken into consideration. Talk with your potential co-workers to find out what you might or might not like about the social climate. Explore your potential new area as much as possible. Take a day to drive around and visit some places and individuals you might want to become familiar with-local churches and parks, schools and teachers, volunteer organizations, retail establishments and neighborhood restaurants.

What's the weather like in your new town? Are you used to sun? Do you like to ski? Do you like the rain? Do you want a white Christmas? Know the climate and know what you like.

Finally, if you decide to make the move, who is paying for it? In some cases your new company will - but understand that this is not automatic. Make sure you inquire about a potential employer's relocation policies before accepting a position. A cross-country move will cost thousands of dollars. just as a new job is a learning experience, so is living in a different part of the country. Your first full-time job is a perfect time to experience new surroundings, especially with the understanding that in today's job market, nothing is forever.

This information was provided by NACE.
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